Be Bear Aware

While in Bear Country

The Sawtooth National Recreation Area (NRA) has a food storage order.  Prior to visiting the Sawtooth NRA know and understand what the food storage order requires.


Black bears are a common animal in the Sawtooth NRA.  Seeing a bear at a distance can be a wonderful experience but having one at your campsite can be a problem.  Bears that learn that campers and campground garbage containers are food sources may become nuisance animals which need to be removed for public safety.  Learn the rules of camping in bear country and practice them every time you camp or picnic.  Remember “A fed bear is a dead bear”.


Bear etiquette in campgrounds, dispersed camps, and picnic areas

  • Always keep a clean camp.
  • Select a campsite way from animal trails, thick brush and bear food sources such as berry patches and fish spawning streams.
  • Store coolers in hard sided locked vehicle and cover them.  Keep food, cooking equipment, garbage and other scented items such as toothpaste, insect repellant hidden in a locked hard-sided vehicle, bear resistant containers or by hanging at least 10 feet of the ground and four feet out from a tree.
  • Clean fish and game away from campsites.  Dispose of waste in bear secure dumpsters.
  • Secure dumpsters properly after using them.  Shutting the lid is not enough, make sure latch is closed properly or use the bars or chains provided.







Keep garbage stored with food or take immediately to the bear resistant dumpster at the campground.

  • Do not leave food, beverages or coolers unattended. In the backcountry set up your sleeping area 300 feet or more from your food storage and cooking/eating areas.
  • Keep sleeping bags and personal gear free of odors.

If a bear enters your campsite or nearby area, back out of the area slowly and calmly.  Do not run, don’t gather your food up, or approach the bear.  If the bear approaches, continue to face the bear, and slowly back away.  If the bear continues to approach, try to scare it away by shouting and taking an aggressive stance.


Food Storage Order Requires:

Properly Store Food when in Sawtooth National Recreation Area

The Food Storage Order requires that:

  • Food must be actively attended while transporting, preparing and eating it.
  • All attractants must be stored in a locked bear-resistant container, hard-sided residence or building, or a closed vehicle constructed of solid, non-pliable material or
  • Suspended at least 10 feet clear of the ground at all points and 4 feet horizontally from supporting tree or pole.
  • Animal carcasses must be acceptably stored or located at least 100 yards away from any camping or sleeping area or National Forest System Trail unless it is being eaten, being prepared for eating or being transported.
  • Bear Attractants include food, toiletries, cosmetics, livestock feed and animal carcasses; examples such as soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, canned foods, pet foods, processed livestock feed and grains, personal hygiene products, and empty food and beverage containers.


For questions and clarification call your local Forest Service office

To learn more about bear resistant containers or the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee:

To learn more about living with wildlife check out the Wood River Valley Wildlife Smart Communities:


Food Storage Order

What to do if you encounter a bear

Be Bear Aware

Bear Aware Brochure

Frequently Asked Questions

News Release